Photo: Wynn Las Vegas
One of the benefits of my move to the West Coast last year was improved access to Las Vegas. It’s about a 3 1/2-hour drive or one-hour plane ride away, and I’ll be making my next pilgrimage there this week.
I’ve been fortunate enough to go several times, and I take great pride in fitting in as many stops as possible. With that in mind, I thought it’d be fun to rank my top five racebooks located in Sin City.
These rankings are mine, and some disagreement is expected. If you want to state your case for an establishment I don’t mention, leave a comment. All in all, this is meant to celebrate the best places to do what we all love to do: Gamble on horses.
And now, the list. Drumroll, please!
5) Tropicana: Until a few years ago, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Trop. It was an older, run-down property, and it wasn’t easy to get to being on the south side of the world-famous Strip. However, the owners put a ton of money into the property, and that included a total renovation of the race and sports book. It’s still not easy to get to, but it’s worth a stop if you’re in the neighborhood.
4) Bally’s: One of the most aesthetically-pleasing race books in Vegas, the book at Bally’s features paintings of horses stretching from one wall to the next. The room is set up in tiers with plenty of seating, and as an added perk, winning tickets can be cashed at any book in the Caesar’s family. That can come in handy, as this sports book sits in the back of the property.
3) Bellagio: One of the gold standards of Vegas boasts one of its best race books. It’s a huge room, and you certainly feel the ambiance of the place when you walk in. However, it loses points for a stringent policy on drink coupons (while other places will reward horseplayers for cheaper action, Bellagio’s drink coupon threshold is higher than other properties), as well as MGM Mirage’s inability to cash out winning tickets at sister properties (trust me, if you’re at Excalibur or Luxor, it’s a LONG walk to the Bellagio’s book).
2) Caesar’s Palace: The sports book at Caesar’s is the best in the city, hands down. The race book also holds its own, but with most TV’s reserved for sports action, horseplayers are sometimes left squinting at smaller sets. It’s a great place, and again, the “sister property” benefit is a wonderful thing, but its race book loses by a nose to the book at…
1) Wynn: It’s hard to get to, but if you want to place future bets, the margin between Wynn’s book and anywhere else is akin to Secretariat’s romp in the Belmont Stakes. The future books are huge, with several pages of odds devoted to almost any horse you can think of. The room itself is massive, the drink service is quick, and most of all, it’s just plain fun to watch racing here.